Donna Murray said it took a couple of days for the reality of her success at this year’s Sydney Royal to sink in.
But, several weeks on and Donna is revelling in her Kaluda Park stud’s outstanding accomplishment.
“It was surreal – I had two horses out there for supreme,” Donna said.
Donna was talking about her mare, Kaluda Park Hugs and Kisses, which was crowned supreme champion buckskin ahead of her full brother, Kaluda Park Stolen Kisses, which also was vying for the award.
Hugs and Kisses was earlier judged champion buckskin mare or filly ahead of more than 20 entries from throughout Australia.
Last year the three-year-old filly was judged reserve champion.
The supreme award, in what Donna described as the Olympics or Commonwealth games of the horse world, was the culmination of 25 years breeding.
Donna breeds Australian part-bred ponies, Welsh, Arabian riding ponies and buckskins.
Based in Stroud, the stud has enjoyed much success at country shows throughout NSW and the ACT, including winning 36 supreme champion rosettes; three in succession at Gloucester show.
Hugs and Kisses was champion led Arabian derivative at the 2017 Royal Canberra Show.
Donna has had a ‘life-long’ passion for anything equine starting as a five-year-old with her first pony.
“I don’t know why I love horses, I just have loved them from the day dot.”
Before joining pony club eight years later, Donna learnt to ride her much loved pony on a hessian bag and by falling off.
“We didn’t have a saddle, and it was just a farm horse.”
As a 15-year-old Donna carried over her love of riding to fundraising, saddling up for an eight-day charity ride with a couple of friends from Newcastle to Gloucester, over the top of Barrington and back to Newcastle.
The friends relied on the ‘charity’ of locals, camping along the way and raising more than $10,000 for the Cancer Council.
After leaving high school Donna worked as a strapper for well known Newcastle trainer, the late Roy Hinton (who also was an apprentice to Jim Pyke) before moving on to work in Ballina.
The first horse Donna was assigned to during her Newcastle days was North Kaluda, which later became the prefix for her now successful stud.
Four breeding mares and one stallion, Kaluda Park Conrade, stand at the stud, which produces three to four foals a year.
Donna and husband Justin at one stage also bred Australian Stock Horses.
But, standing at just over124cm, ponies are the ideal height for this diminutive breeder.
There are so many different breeds of ponies, they stand at under 14 hands, they are more personal and we have more options, Donna said.